The Wartburg, castle with a rich history in Thuringia, Germany

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In the mid-11th century, Wartburg Castle was built atop a 441-meter-high hill in Thuringia, Germany. The castle, like many other castles, has a rich history. Not so much when it comes to warfare and/or defense, but in other areas. A visit to this beautiful castle is therefore well worthwhile.

About the Wartburg in Eisenach

Wartburg Castle, popularly called the Wartburg, is located in the kreisfreie Stadt Eisenach. Eisenach is located in the western part of the state of Thuringia, about 460 kilometers from Utrecht. For centuries, Eisenach was an important place along the Via Regia (King’s Highway), which ran from Paris to Kiev. The Via Regia was an important trade route but was also used as a postal route, pilgrimage route and king’s road. Other cities along this route included Frankfurt, Gotha, Erfurt, Jena, Leipzig and Krakow.

History of the Wartburg

The Wartburg itself is older than the city of Eisenach. The Count of Thuringia, Louis of Schauenburg, built the Wartburg in the mid-11th century. Over time, Eisenach was formed at the base of the hill. In the 12th century, the castle was massively expanded, including the addition of the Landgrafenhaus. In this part of the castle there are beautifully decorated rooms where you really feast your eyes. Unfortunately, not all of them are original anymore; most of the ornaments, frescoes and decorations were added in the 19th century. Below are some of the rooms that I still sometimes think back to.


The Elisabeth-Kemenate is an impressive room in the Wartburg. This room was decorated entirely in neo-Byzantine style in the early 1900s. Historical scenes in glass mosaic can be seen on the walls and ceilings. All this is in memory of Elisabeth of Thuringia, who lived at the Wartburg from the age of four and later married Louis IV of Thuringia.

Elizabeth Chamber - Elisabeth Kemenate - The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -


In the Sängersaal, the Sängerkrieg was held, also called Wartburgkrieg. According to history books, this singing competition was held in 1207, between several minstrels. Whether the contest actually took place, opinions are divided. The fact is that the Sängersaal in the Wartburg is an imposing and beautifully decorated hall. There are beautiful frescoes on the walls in addition to the decorations.

Saengersaal - The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -


Another impressive, lavishly decorated hall is the Festsaal. You will find the 40 meter long Festsaal on the third floor. In this hall, where concerts and other festivities are regularly held, your eyes will feast. Truly no piece of wall or ceiling without decoration you will find here. Nice to know: musician Franz Liszt worked as an advisor during the renovation of the Feestsaal in the 19th century. Among other things, he ensured good acoustics, something that still benefits musicians today.

Festsaal - The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -

Maarten Luther at The Wartburg

Martin Luther spent ten months in exile at the Wartburg in 1521 and 1522. He was not here voluntarily. Luther had been “kidnapped” by a Saxon prince for the purpose of putting him in hiding at the Wartburg, after he had received an imperial ban. At the Wartburg, he assumed a different name and a different appearance. Thus, he spent his time here as Junker Jörg. During Martin Luther’s time at the Wartburg, he translated the New Testament into German at the desk in the photo below.

Desk Maarten Luther - The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -

Beautifully decorated hallways

Even when you walk from one room to another you feast your eyes. Sometimes the corridors are colorful; walls are decorated with wallpaper, there is painting and shiny tiles on the floor. The other time the corridor is still in half-timbered style with sober colors and wooden floor, making everything creak when you walk on it.

The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -
The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -

Südturm and Gadem

The Gadem (building on the right in the photo) does not date from the Middle Ages like most of the Wartburg. It was built in the 19th century on the foundation with vaulted cellar of the earlier castle kitchen. Today you can have a drink here in Burgcafe Gadem.

The southern tower in the photo(Südturm) still dates from the Middle Ages, as does part of an old wall next to it. In the tower’s windowless dungeon, supporter of the Anabaptist movement Fritz Erbe died after eight years of imprisonment.

From the tower you have a beautiful view of the surroundings of the Wartburg, as well as the courtyard. What immediately stands out is the large cistern, which was used to filter water through sand. Unfortunately, this system did not suffice and water was carried up from the valley with donkeys for centuries.

The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -

The Wartburg on UNESCO World Heritage List

Since 1999, the Wartburg has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For inclusion on the World Heritage List, a monument must meet two of six criteria, and the Wartburg did just that. “The Wartburg is an exceptional monument from the feudal era in Central Europe. In addition, the Wartburg is rich in cultural references. Great value is attached to Martin Luther’s exile, which is a strong symbol of German integration and unity.”

Spending the night at the Wartburg

Can’t get enough of castle life? Then you can stay overnight at the 5-star Romantik Hotel auf der Wartburg. The hotel offers rooms with breathtaking views of the Thuringian landscape. It has been beautifully restored and is rated by guests as very good.

Check availability and best rates for Romantik Hotel auf der Wartburg

Stay overnight at the Wartburg - Romantik Hotel auf der Wartburg -

How do you get to the Wartburg?

You can walk up but also use cabs that are waiting downstairs or a shuttle bus. You can park your car in one of the parking lots. When you arrive at the top of the hill, don’t forget to take a look from the Wartburg Aussichtsplattform. Here is the view of the Wartburg as shown in the photo at the top of this article. From P2 or P3 you can walk up the hill in about 45 minutes. You then come to Ausblick auf die Wartburg, where you have a nice view of the castle. You can also park on the north side. From here you can walk up in about 10 minutes.

The Wartburg, magnificent castle in Thuringia -

Highlights in Eisenach

Eisenach is not only known for the Wartburg. Although that is one of the main reasons people come to Eisenach. Eisenach is also the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach, and many classical music lovers come to visit the Bachhaus. In addition, the city is known as the seat of automobile industry as well as the home of Martin Luther.

In Eisenach, there are a beautiful places to see. Historic buildings such as the Hellgrevenhof and the Lussenhof and old castles such as Landhaus Pflugensberg, Schloss Fischbach and Eisenacher Stadtschloss, among others, are important attractions. Eisenach has one preserved city gate: Nikolai Gate. A number of historic buildings can be found along the market square. Like the Georgenkirche, built in 1180, where Johann Sebastian Bach was baptized. The Gothic-style Rathaus also stands along the square, as does the Stadtschloss. In the middle of the square, the Georgsbrunnen shows off. As a lover of museums, you can have your fun in Eisenach. Besides the Bachhaus, visit the Lutherhaus, the Stadschloss, the Automobilbaumuseum and the Thüringer Museum.

Eisenach tip in Thuringia -

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